As a supplement to this week's Last Supper column, I've asked a handful of farmers a few questions about their CSA. The hope is that, if you're interested in becoming a member this year, we'll help you find a good fit. There are dozens of great options in the area—our sample is by no means exhaustive. LocaHarvest.com is a great place to start, but the PSU Farmers Market opened last week—stop by and ask around. Winter Green Farm, one of the few fully biodynamic farms in the area, is another of the early adopters of the CSA model. Wali Via, one of the owners, kindly answered my questions.
How did you first get involved with CSA’s? How long have you been operating?
This will be our 20th season as a CSA and our 31st season as a farm. We became involved in CSA both to promote the CSA model and to provide an alternative to the roller coaster ride of the wholesale marketplace.
Why do you think the business model is important? How do you think it fits in with Portlanders today?
We believe that it is critical that food consumers and producers strengthen their relationship. Agriculture has become sidelined in the typical Americans' consciousness, yet it is obviously most fundamental to their well-being. CSA offers a way to really connect with a farm and become familiar with the joys and challenges facing farmers. It is an opportunity to ensure that farms will remain viable in the area. Portlanders are ahead of the learning curve in understanding these principles. There is really no reason why Portlanders can't obtain a majority of their food within this bioregion. Doing so will increase food security for the entire community.
How large is your CSA? How many members do you have now and how many can you support?
We have a 600 member CSA for our 19 week standard season and a 250 member CSA for a late season. This size currently meets our farm's needs.
What’s the range of produce you feature? What can members expect from week to week?
We offer over 40 different vegetables and berries during the course of the season. We balance types of produce you receive to provide a well-rounded diet in given week. Early boxes are naturally lighter than mid and late season boxes. Members also receive a weekly newsletter with the goings on in the field and recipes geared toward the vegetables in that week's box. We also offer several on-farm events for our members.
What are a few highlights? The vegetables you’re most excited about, or have been most pleased with in the past?
Most folks can't get enough of our deliciously sweet blueberries and strawberries. Our silt clay loam soil grows brassicas (the cabbage family - broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.) particularly well.
How much is a full share? Do you offer half shares?
In the Portland area our price including delivery to our pick up sites is $505 for the Standard Season Share and $190 for our Late Season Share. We do have a Financial Assistance Fund to assist lower income members, accept food stamps, and offer over the season payment plans for those that can't afford to pay up front. We only offer one size share.
How do you handle distribution? Where are your drop points?
We deliver to 4 locations on Wednesday: Moreland Farmers' Market (SE Bybee & E 14th Ave.), 4307 NE Brazee St., 7109 SE 31st Ave., and 3338 SE Caruthers St.
We deliver to 2 sites on Saturday: Hollywood Farmers' Market (44th & Hancock) and the Portland Farmers' Market (SW Harrison and Montgomery).
We deliver to the King Farmers' Market on Sundays (NE 7th & Wygant -between Prescott and Alberta).
What makes your farm stand out from others in the area?
Primarily that we are a biodynamic farm. Biodynamics results in produce with superior flavor and keeping quality.